Film Production in Guatemala

Guatemala films

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! With all the rave for “Ixcanul,” which was submitted as the Guatemalan entry for Best Foreign Language Film (Kakchikel) for the 88th Academy Awards airing this month, we focus on filmmaking in Guatemala. While Ixcanul was not nominated for the Oscars, it has won dozens of awards internationally. With our own actors from nearby Santa María de […]

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Cemeteries in Guatemala

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GUATEMALA INSIGHT. by Elizabeth Bell, author/historian. Guatemala honors all of the dead on All Saint’s Day (Nov. 1) and holds services on the Day of the Dead (Nov. 2) How cultures honor and bury their dead has been of great intrigue for millennia. While the ancient Maya buried their deceased under their houses or temples, the Spanish brought other traditions with […]

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La Ceiba Tree of Guatemala

photo by [nelo] Mijangos : www.nelomh.com
Ceiba near San Lucas Samox, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala

Guatemala Insight — by Elizabeth Bell, author/historian. With the celebration of Independence Day on Sept. 15, national symbols, which include the ceiba tree, come to our attention. The ceiba was declared the national tree of Guatemala in 1955 at the request of the botanist Ulises Rojas. This was, in part, because of its importance to the Maya. Today ceiba trees are protected […]

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Touched by Color in Antigua Guatemala

photo: Jorge Javier Barrios

Guatemala Insight by Elizabeth Bell. With the passing of Laura Mora (1923-2015), famed paintings and mural paintings conservator who taught us about the importance of the history of colors at ICCROM (International Centre for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments) in Rome, it brings to life again the importance of exceptional professors and mentors who move us to a new […]

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Tips for enjoying Semana Santa

Procession, Semana Santa photos by Leonel -Nelo- Mijangos (nelo.ws)

Lent and Holy Week celebrations in La Antigua Guatemala can be a bit overwhelming at best. Over the years, I have learned some great tips to enjoy the more than 50 activities during this time of year. Some of them are: Plan ahead and allow plenty of time. Know the times and locations of the velaciones and processions. City Hall […]

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The Flag(s) of Guatemala

  by Elizabeth Bell. Guatemala’s current flag has flown over the skies of Guatemala since Aug. 17, 1871, although independence from Spain was signed on Sept. 15, 1821. Colonial banners and flags were quite popular before independence and usually incorporated a red and yellow color combination similar to the Spanish flag. In 1822, the Mexican flag flew in Guatemala during […]

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Francisco Marroquín: Guatemala’s first bishop and linguist

by Elizabeth Bell, author/historian. Francisco Marroquín (1499-1563) was the first bishop of Guatemala and the country’s first linguist. Born near Santander, Spain, he studied philosophy and theology and was a professor at the University of Osma. He became a Dominican priest and was at the Spanish royal court where conqueror Pedro de Alvarado met him in 1528 and persuaded him to […]

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Fiesta Time in La Antigua!

La Antigua maintains its holiday in honor of St. James on July 25th, and the celebration begins now! by Elizabeth Bell. It’s fiesta time again in La Antigua Guatemala! July 25th is our patron saint’s day—St. James—as the city was founded as Santiago de Guatemala. St. James was an apostle, the conquerors’ patron saint and is Spain’s patron saint today. […]

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Lent and Semana Santa

Antigua recently surpassed Seville, Spain as having the largest Easter Week celebration in the world today! In 1524 the conquerors had barely set foot in Guatemala when they introduced their traditions for Lent and Semana Santa from Seville, Spain. These have evolved over the centuries and Antigua recently surpassed Seville as having the largest celebration in the world today! Carpet […]

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Antigua Over The Years

Since 1992, much effort has been dedicated to preserving Antigua with an eye toward finding a balance between preservation and economic development. It is sometimes difficult to remember how abandoned the city truly was. After the 1773 earthquake, most residents did not want to move to muddy empty lots in Guatemala City during the rainy season. It took a royal […]

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Casa Popenoe

Rewriting history When the Universidad Francisco Marroquin acquired the Casa Popenoe from the Popenoe family in 2007, we never imagined that, through its historical research, the university would rewrite the house’s history. Dr. Arq. Alberto Garín, curator, has done a fabulous job of just that! Meticulously going through the Popenoe family records and interviewing Dr. Marion Popenoe Hatch, he has […]

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Christmas Carols in Guatemala

“When I first viewed the ancient manuscripts in the early 1980s, I was surprised at the beauty of the music and decided to devote efforts to its revival.” —Dr. Dieter Lehnoff Far from modern Christmas carols in English made popular by Bing Crosby and José Feliciano, villancicos are a common poetic and musical form from Spain that date back to […]

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Spanish American Sculpture in Guatemala

Guatemala has some of the finest wood sculptures in the world, certainly surpassing those of other Spanish American regions and many artists in Spain. A recent lecture at the Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala City by Philippe Malgouyres from the Louvre Museum brought light to the importance of Guatemalan sculpture, particularly throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. He suggests that […]

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Antigua Guatemala celebrates its 34th anniversary UNESCO World Heritage Site

UNESCO declaration (image by photos.rudygiron.com)

Antigua Guatemala was included as No. 65 in the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage List during the World Heritage Convention’s Third Session in October 1979 in Luxor, Egypt. Today there are 981 sites that the World Heritage Committee considers as “having outstanding universal value… the protection, management, authenticity and integrity of properties are also important considerations.” […]

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Women Leaders — Guatemala’s Independence

María Dolores Bedoya de Molina (1783-1853)

September 15 is best known for the civic ceremonies, children’s marching band parades and marathons with Olympic-style torches as Guatemala celebrates its independence from Spain (1821). Spanish America declared independence between 1808 and 1826 and many efforts were intertwined. While women participated behind the scenes—influencing family members and friends at home—some outstanding women also participated openly. Before independence, Guatemala included […]

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What is one of the biggest changes since 1969 in Antigua Guatemala?

Phones. Yes, phones. Many visitors comment on how Antigua must have changed so much since I arrived in 1969. That was also the year that one of the first Spanish schools formally began (Proyecto Lingüístico Francisco Marroquín) and when the Protective Law for the Protection of La Antigua Guatemala was passed by the Guatemalan Congress. In 1969, a few houses […]

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The Building of a Remarkable Colonial Capital

Antigua’s architecture is remarkable. The capital, known as Santiago de Guatemala, was founded by the Spanish (1541) in what was then a remote valley, after the previous capital was inundated by floods and mudslides. Water, climate and fertile soil were the main factors in deciding its new location. In 1543, shortly after celebrating the first city council meeting, there was […]

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What system is used for property measurements in Guatemala?

A common question I receive is about property measurements, probably expecting the short answer as whether we use feet (imperial system) or meters (metric system). No easy answers here. When the Spanish came in 1524, European measurements were based on Marcus Vitruvius’ (80-70 BC—15 AD) “De Architectura,” known today as the “Ten Books of Architecture.” According to Vitruvius, architecture is […]

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A “New” Mayor for Antigua Guatemala

Former City Council member, Edgar Ruiz, gets the official green light to move the town forward. It’s official! Edgar Ruiz, who was a City Council member, was approved by Guatemala’s Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE), as interim mayor on March 20. He had been acting mayor since Sept. 17, 2012 and, with his new official title, will have more of a […]

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Mission Accomplished! Restoration of the Paintings at Catedral de San José

Close-up of St. John painting showing the serpent emerging from the chalice

Close to 10 years ago, while admiring some Christmas decorations at San José Catedral in Antigua, I was astonished at the poor state of preservation of the colonial paintings. All of the original colonial art had been moved to the new capital in 1773, except for the 1680 paintings of the apostles by Mexican artist Juan de Correa (1646-1716). Restored […]

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Lent & Semana Santa in Antigua Guatemala

Antigua used to be second to Seville, Spain for its Lenten celebration until recently. It is now considered the largest celebration in the world with 50 activities during the 40 days of Lent. In March processions fill the streets of Antigua with the fragrance of incense, pine needles, flowers and coroso (a pod also used for carpet making). The increase […]

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Vive la nueva era: Inside the XII International Paiz Festival

The new phrase for the XII International Paiz Festival is very appropriate as Guatemala has launched itself into a new era with the 13 Baktun, progress in democracy and even with its first medal at the recent Olympics! While the Paiz Festival has been bringing some of the best cultural activities to Antigua since the 1970s, this month we look […]

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More about the new cycle of the Maya calendar

Maya calendar prepared by Calixta Gabriel

Much has been speculated by foreign writers about the “end” of the Maya calendar, including that it is the end of the world. According to Professor David Stuart (Mesoamerican Center at the University of Texas), much of this evolved out of the book Mexican Mystique (1975), which we all read in our classes at the university. Written by an author […]

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The Doors of Antigua Guatemala

Entrance to La Merced Monastery, one of the few original doors of Antigua  (César Tián / www.revue.gt)

Visitors usually are not aware that we are welcome inside any open door in Antigua. Well, that is if both doors are open. Door etiquette has it that if one part of the door is open, that is not considered “open doors” (peek but do not enter), but if both sides of the door are open, we are welcome to explore behind the walls.

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Gert Rosenthal

Guatemala’s ambassador to the United Nations this month assumes the presidency of the UN Security Council. In 2011, Guatemala was selected for a two-year, rotating term in the Security Council (Jan. 1, 2012 through Dec. 31, 2013). Guatemala was unanimously supported for this role, and many UN officials saw this as recognition of Ambassador Rosenthal as among the most respected […]

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Enrique Cruz España Exhibit

Enrique Cruz España Exhibit

Maestro Enrique Cruz España is one of Antigua’s finest artisans. His exhibit, La Gente de mi Ciudad (People from My City) premieres at Capuchinas (2a calle & 2a avenida) in La Antigua on Friday, Sept. 7 at 5 p.m. and remains open through Sept. 29. La Gente de mi Ciudad features clay figures depicting 28 local residents, among them Jimmy […]

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What’s the canícula in Guatemala?

Canícula days around Antigua Guatemala (photo by Rudy A. Giron)

Guatemala’s rainy season is roughly from May 15—Oct. 15 with a break in July/August called the canícula. Beginning with the cabañuelas (the first 12 days of the year – each day representing the weather for that month), predictions are made as to when the canícula will fall. According to the Instituto Nacional de Sismología, Vulcanología, Meterología e Hidrología de Guatemala […]

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Becoming a Guatemalan Citizen

Portrait of Elizabeth Bell

During the 43 years that I have lived in Antigua, I have co-founded and participated in many committees, associations and foundations to improve the quality of life for our residents. Ranging today from education to micro-credit and promoting cultural activities, many of these meetings usually relate to finding solutions to problems that we have identified over the years. Four-plus years […]

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Who are some of Guatemala’s most inspiring men?

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I wrote about a similar topic for women for May (Mother’s Day) and thought the gender issue might apply here toward men. Two men—perhaps more than others—have influenced my efforts toward the preservation and positive development of La Antigua Guatemala since 1969. Mario Antonio Sandoval is one of Guatemala’s best-known journalists. He became a great friend in 1978 when we […]

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